Cyborgs at Work: Employees Get Implanted With Microchips

CBS News/AP, 4/3/2017

Epicenter, a Swedish startup, is implanting microchips into their employees as replacements for swipe cards. Using Near Field Communication (NFC), the microchips provide identifying data to devices such as printers and doors, providing more convenience to employees. This technology has never before used for such a broad group of people; demonstrating that it can be beneficial in the workplace suggests that it may quickly become more widely used, despite security and privacy risks.

Paralysed Man Moves Arm Using Power of Thought in World First

The Guardian, 3/29/2017

Lead author Dr. Bolu Ajiboye and a team at Case Western Reserve University developed an experimental procedure that re-enables motor function in a paralyzed patient’s arm. This procedure translates activity in the patient’s motor cortex into a signal that activates the arm muscles to perform the desired action, with help from a prosthetic. The research is still in the developmental phase, but they hope it can become a normal procedure to help people with paralysis.

As Congress Repeals Internet Privacy Rules, Putting Your Options in Perspective

National Public Radio, 3/28/2017

Rules made in October by the Federal Commercial Commission (FCC) are expected to be overturned by Congress and President Trump. These rules would have regulated how Internet Service Providers (ISPs) collected and used data from users, by giving users more control over what information ISPs collect. This rule set would not apply to websites and app providers, like Facebook or Google. However, critics of the overturn argue that it is much more difficult for users to choose to avoid ISPs if they do not wish to be tracked.

Scanners Can Be Hijacked to Perpetrate Cyberattacks

Ben-Gurion University, 3/28/2017

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University demonstrated the ability to communicate with and potentially activate malware on a computer by directing pulsing lights to a typical office scanner that was left open on the same network. These exploits exemplify how seemingly secure devices could be a potential security threat to other networked machines.

Startup Matroid Uses AI to Pluck Images From Streams of Video

MSN/Bloomberg News, 3/26/2017

Reza Zadeh, a professor at Stanford University, has begun an artificial intelligence (AI) startup called Matroid whose software can detect specific people or objects in video streams. The user specifies what they are looking for, using example images and video or preset options, and the algorithms find corresponding people or objects in different videos. This approach could prove useful for businesses, law enforcement, and political and social science.

Protecting Web Users’ Privacy

MIT News, 3/23/2017

MIT and Stanford University researchers are developing Splinter, an encryption system that hides online database queries. Splinter splits up and encrypts the request for data, sending subparts of the query to different database servers. The user’s computer organizes the returned data to determine the answer. The researchers seek to protect a user’s sensitive information as it travels through the Internet, and in some cases to keep the database systems themselves from knowing who’s searching for what.

Skin Powered by the Sun? Energy-Saving Prosthetic Limbs Get Better Feeling

Reuters, 3/22/2017

Researchers from the University of Glasgow, UK, have developed a prototype for solar-powered prosthetic skin. The prosthesis is wrapped in a thin layer of carbon, which allows light to pass through the skin and be collected as energy. Thus far, the prototype uses this energy to power additional sensors in the prosthetic, giving the skin a heightened sensitivity to pressure and texture as well as temperature.

Wi-fi on Rays of Light: 100 Times Faster, and Never Overloaded

Eindhoven University of Technology, 3/17/2017

Work by researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology could lead to wi-fi that transports data via infrared rays. This approach would have huge data capacities compared to current standards. It would use fiber-optic antennas that keep track of every connected device’s exact position, and emitting rays with a wavelength that is totally safe for the human eye.

Dive With a Blue Whale in New Virtual-Reality Experience

Live Science, 3/16/2017

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles (NHMLA) collaborated with designers from Wevr to develop an oceanic underwater virtual reality (VR) experience for visitors. The VR gives visitors an opportunity to explore and interact with marine animals in their natural habitat, with the further goal of raising awareness about environmental issues that threaten ocean wildlife.

Using Virtual Reality to Catch a Real Ball

EurekAlert!, 3/20/2017

Disney researchers are developing ways to improve virtual-reality interactions with physical objects. Specifically, they are seeking to make it easier to catch a real physical object like a ball while using a VR system. Possible applications include enhancing interactive gaming systems, and even potentially helping people train their hand-eye coordination.

Offline AI Revolution Awaits Smartphones

Phys.org/AFP, 2/27/2017

Phone manufacturers are attempting to make handsets operate offline by using artificial intelligence (AI) and faster processors. This could let handsets use data already stored to operate. Some companies are focusing on AI technologies that let handsets perform tasks before the user does. For example, Neura, a startup from┬áCalifornia uses an AI that takes data from user’s routine behaviors and then makes predictions on what the users next steps are. Handsets that operate offline and perform tasks before the user does become more helpful and user interactive.

AncestryAI Algorithm Traces Your Family Tree Back More Than 300 Years

Aalto University, 3/16/2017

An Aalto University graduate student is developing a new family-tree algorithm called AncestryAI that uses Finnish parish registers to generate a probable family tree. Register data comes from HisKi, an open genealogical database supported by volunteer data entry. AncestryAI users can leave feedback on the accuracy of their tree, which is used to further train the algorithm.